It’s only fitting that this post be written in a disgusting pea green colour, to match my disdain for peas, since… the incident.
Allow me to set the scene for you: I go out for lunch at the Slug and Lettuce in Leicester Square (Lovely venue btw), the food is cheap for Central London, the cocktails are flowing, I am surrounded by friends, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!
I’ll tell you what… Peas.
I had ordered the steak and chips, a seemingly safe choice for a meat and potato lover such as myself; however in a horrible turn of events, my food was delivered to the table accompanied by a big ol’ helping of peas.
For any normal, respectable human being, this would not be an issue. But for a vegetable fearing man such as myself, this was the worst possible outcome for a social gathering at a restaurant. Of course, I’m in front of friends, and I don’t want to cause a scene so in my head I’m like “Okay, just keep calm, leave the peas alone and eat the food you DO like.”
I do so, and leave just the little green devil spawn on my plate. And then the dreaded, inevitable words were muttered by someone at the table…
Why don’t you just try some.
I begin to panic, I’m sweating, all eyes are on me. I come up with a thousand and one bullshit excuses as to why I don’t want to do as suggested. “I’m full”, “Maybe next time, I don’t really fancy them right now.” “I’ve tried them before and I’m not a fan”.
None of these were convincing and so I’m essentially bullied into force feeding myself some peas. I am mortified. I break down. Not necessarily because I’m eating peas, but because in that moment, I realised that I was a 19 year old, sat at a table with his boyfriend to his left and his friends to his right, who was unable to even fathom the thought of eating a single pea.
Of course everyone began to laugh, and then when they realised that I was actually genuinely upset, it all got a bit awkward and we left pretty swiftly. It still gets brought up in conversation from time to time and I try to laugh it off and forget it. I really should be thankful for that awful day though, because it was the catalyst for me to stop pretending like my eating habits were any kind of normal. I knew it had to have a name and hours of internet trawling lead me to discover ARFID.
Okay that’s enough of the green it’s really just the worst colour.
So why am I telling you this extremely embarrassing tale? I want people that don’t understand to realise that their negative reactions to people suffering with ARFID are scarring. Just yesterday I was reading an article about a woman who, after only eating chicken nuggets and chips for 28 years, had hypnotherapy and can now eat whatever she wants. I was so inspired by this woman’s journey and story of recovery; and then I checked the comments section. Big. Mistake.
“This sounds like she was being a kid and pushing the boundries and her parents let her get away with it and it has just gone from there.
I am pretty sure if she would have been given a belt and told she gets to eat nothing else and can go to bed hungry like any other kid she would not have needed hypnotherapy”
“Who admits to this and puts themselves on the internet forever?”
“These people have more wrong with them than what we`re being told, or just plain lazy to cook anything else. I had a dodgy burger when I was a kid, made me ill, but it never put me off.”
I was dumbfounded. As a gay male I’m used to seeing negativity towards a community from people who don’t understand. And by now I’ve grown numb to it.
But this really hit me. This condition is not widely known about. There is little to no exposure. There’s only one specialist in the country as far as I’m aware that treats people with this condition specifically. The reason I’ve suffered for so many years in silence is because this is how people genuinely feel about people who have ARFID.
They think I’m lazy and don’t want to cook. They think I should’ve been hit more as a child. They think I’m crazy for posting about this on the internet.
Those words were not directly meant for me but they might as well have been. And that is not okay. So yes, I told a funny story about a vegetable making me cry. But what I really wanted to convey to whatever audience this reaches, is that bullying is never okay. Whether it is inflicted intentionally or not, we must learn to be careful in our everyday lives of what we’re saying, of how we treat each other when dealing with sensitive issues such as eating habits. We must boost exposure of this condition and continue to share stories like this so that something positive can come out of all this negative.
Thank you for reading ❤
If you’d like to read the article I mentioned above, here is a link: